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Posted on: July 1, 2016

Tree Care for Trees During the Drought

What should I look for? Symptoms of drought injury to trees can be sudden or may take up to two years to be revealed. Drought injury symptoms on tree leaves include wilting, curling at the edges, and yellowing. Deciduous leaves may develop scorch, brown outside edges or browning between veins. Evergreen needles may turn yellow or brown usually starting at the tips of the needles Extended drought- leaves may be smaller than normal, drop prematurely or remain attached to the tree even though brown. Drought stress may not kill a tree outright, but it may contribute to serious secondary insect and disease infestations in following years. How to water your tree? Deep watering to a depth of 12” inches below the soil surface is recommended. Saturate the soil around the tree within the “dripline” (the outer edges of the tree’s branches) to disperse water down toward the roots. For evergreens, water 3’-5’ beyond the dripline on all sides of the tree. The objective is to water slowly, dispersing the flow of water to get the water deep down to the trees roots. Watering for short periods of time only encourages shallow rooting which can lead to more drought damage. Avoid digging holes in the ground in an effort to water deeply-may dry out existing roots. A soil root feeder attached to a hose is acceptable to insert into the ground if your soil is not too hard and compact. Watering at ground level to avoid throwing water in the air is more efficient (spray heads) Tree Watering: Amount of water needed and methods to use. During our current water restrictions, irrigation systems designed to water turf do not sufficiently water your trees. During the drought, trees should be given a higher priority than lawns. Lawns can be replaced in a matter of months whereas a 20 year old tree will take 20 years to replace. How much water your tree should receive depends upon the tree size. A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering. Measure trunk diameter at 4’6” from the natural grade- General formula: Tree Diameter x 5 minutes = Total Watering Time. All size trees should be watered April through September. All trees should also receive adequate water during the winter months too if rainfall is scarce Water should be distributed evenly under the dripline of the tree. Small Trees (1-7” diameter) Water 3 times per month-April through September. Newly planted and smaller trees can get adequate water within the existing watering restrictions by hand watering with a soft spray hose attachment as a separate zone on your designated day. Medium Trees (8-15” diameter) and Large Trees (16”+ diameter) Water 3 times per month-April through September. Soaker hose or in-line drip tubing wrapped several times under the dripline of the tree. End of the hose with a soft spray attachment to disperse the flow – use a medium pressure. Deep Root Feeder - Work the spike into the soil at an angle to a depth of 8 inches. Use the spike at low to moderate water pressure. Water the area under the branches in at least twelve sites. Scatter the sites around the area bordered by the drip line. For new trees and those planted within five years, place the needle at least three feet from the trunk. Water a minimum of four sites around young trees. Steps to Adding Mulch Around Your Tree Add mulch to the base of your tree by removing any grass within a 3 to 10 foot area depending on the size of your tree. Install natural mulch such as wood chips or processed ¾” mulch at a depth of 2 to 4 inches deep within the circle. Keep the mulch from touching the trunk of the tree-4”-6” away

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